updated 11:25 am EDT, Mon June 27, 2011
Microsoft said pushing Windows 8 RTM to April 2012
Microsoft may be stepping up the schedule for Windows 8 to help counter the iPad, a new tip from a reliable source says. Most have it shipping in late 2012 to keep with Microsoft's usually rigid three-year schedule, but ZDNet has been told Microsoft was pressing for a Release To Manufacturing (RTM) schedule of April 2012. The timing would have the OS shipping, not just mastered, by the mid-point of the year.
The expected beta at September's Build conference, on this timetable, would be the only beta Microsoft releases. One release candidate will also purportedly be available before the RTM version goes out to PC builders.
Microsoft's schedule, if accurate, cuts its usual external testing process by as much as half and reflects an increasingly conspicuous admission from the company that it has failed in the tablet market so far. The company once tried to claim Windows 7 tablets would win as a preemptive strike in January 2010, before the iPad had even been unveiled, but found its OS increasingly marginalized. HP and others eventually limited Windows tablets to business as it became clear Apple's formula was not only much more popular but outsold eight years of Windows tablets in nine months.
Windows 8 is a radical break for Microsoft that abandons the basic layout it has had since 1995 in favor of a more Windows Phone 7-inspired tile interface. Traditional apps will run, but the interface is designed at most if not all levels for finger-based touch. The OS is likewise the first from Microsoft since 1996 to run on a non-x86 platform and will support ARM to get closer to the iPad in slimness and battery life, albeit at the expense of legacy apps.
Officially, Microsoft has only committed to a generic 2012 release schedule and is non-committal even on the Windows 8 name.